Guest Post: Nate Edmondson on Trusting God

My youngest son Nate is in Chicago and we are bringing him home once again this weekend for a funeral.  This time for the funeral of my father. I thought his thoughts were worth sharing today:

I have a paper due tomorrow morning at 8, so I should probably be working on that… but there’s not too many things I dislike more than writing those.

This year has by far been the most difficult year of my life. I’ve had to go home 3 times for 3 different funerals, one of which for a very close friend. Mixing all of those emotions with the emotions of being homesick in general has been interesting. At the beginning of my first semester I sensed God trying to teach me to trust in Him with every aspect of my life, and unfortunately I’ve continued trusting myself instead of Him.

I think learning to trust God completely is the most important thing that any Christian could do. Imagine what would happen if every believer truly started living by faith in every arena of life.

It’s hard. I really suck at it. Instead of spending time with Him I sit on facebook and write blog posts..

Trust God. What does that mean exactly… I don’t know. But I know God’s real and has a real plan. The goal if figuring out how to stop holding on to my life and surrender it to God, but again, I don’t really know what that means or looks like.

It’s amazing how unstructured this post is…

Can you identify with Nate? 

Is trusting God completely a process for you as well?

What is the number one distraction in your life from fully trusting the God who loves you more than you could ever imagine?

10 Questions with a Great Leader…YOU!


Every Tuesday since late 2009, I have featured another leader in my 10 question interview series.  You can read all of them HERE.  I’ve enjoyed this series and while there are a few leaders I am still hoping to interview, I decided I wanted to hear from another great leader:

Y O U

You are a leader.  If you are reading this post, you most likely are the type that others follow.  You may not even know that you are a leader, but I can almost assure you that you are to someone.  It could be employees, volunteers, friends or family, but someone is watching what you do and your influence in their life is changing the way they live.  I call that leadership.

So today I’m interviewing YOU!

Here’s how it works.  Copy and past these questions into a comment on this post and then answer the questions. It shouldn’t take long to answer each one.   I’m anxious to hear your answers.

Answer well.  I hope to choose some of them as feature posts on this blog.  I can’t pick all of them and may not pick any, but if you are adding value in your answers for others, I may pick yours.  (Please don’t be offended if I don’t use yours.  It’s not an indication that you are not a good leader or had good answers, just that it didn’t necessarily register with me at the time.)

So, here are the questions….copy, paste, and answer:

If your comment is chosen for a guest post, I will share some general information about you before getting to the questions, such as position, church, and blog.

Questions:

  1. When you were growing up, are you doing what you thought you would be doing vocationally?  If not, what did you want to do?
  2. What’s the most different job you’ve had from what you are doing now and how did that job help you with what you are doing now?
  3. Who is one person, besides Christ, who most helped to shape your leadership and how did they help you?
  4. Besides the Bible, what is one book that has most helped to shape your thought process in life and ministry?
  5. What are three words other people would use to describe your work style/ethic?
  6. What is your greatest strength in leadership?
  7. What is your greatest weakness in leadership?
  8. What is the hardest thing you have to do in leadership?
  9. What is one misconception about your leadership position you think people may have?
  10. If you could give one piece of advice to young leaders from what you’ve learned by experience, what would it be?

Have you enjoyed the interview series?

How to Be in Continual Prayer, Without Babbling

I have been asked numerous times about a seeming contradiction in the Bible. Paul, who wrote much of the New Testament, wrote that we are to “pray about everything” (Philippians 4:6), “pray continually”, (1 Thessalonians 5:17), and “be in constant prayer” (Romans 12:12).  Paul seems to have believed that something in us could live in a state of continual prayer and that we should keep talking repeatedly to God.

Here’s where the seeming contradiction comes in the Bible to some people.  In Matthew 6:7-8 Jesus says, “When you pray, don’t babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think their prayers are answered only by repeating their words again and again. Don’t be like them, because your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him!” Jesus almost appears to be telling the reader NOT to pray continually.

The verses do not contradict each other.  We must consider these verses in the context of the entirety of Scripture. Throughout the Bible we realize that God is always more concerned about the heart of a matter than He is actions we take (1 Samuel 16:7), so it helps if we examine this subject with that understanding.

When Jesus said not to babble in prayer, because God already knows our needs, He was speaking to people who tried to impress others with their flowery words.  That is not what Paul is suggesting to us in his writings.

Paul’s encouragement for continual prayer, in action at least, is obviously not even possible. Some people have a hard time walking and chewing gum at the same time.  Expecting people to pray while they do anything else is a challenge. Paul is not referring to an action as much as he is an attitude. He’s encouraging our heart to be in a continual spirit of prayer; a constant journey of seeking our Father’s will and communing with our Heavenly Daddy.

This is made possible with the help of God’s Spirit, who “intercedes for us”. If our heart is firmly set on Christ, we can be “continually praying”.   If we go to the marketplace, Christ goes with us in prayer. If we are driving a car, Christ is with us in prayer. If we read a book to our children, if Christ is in our heart, we can be in an attitude of prayer, because God’s Spirit intercedes for our spirit.

Put your heart and mind firmly on Christ today and you will continue to live in a spirit of prayer.

Do you have any specific prayer requests? Leave them here.  I’m finding my readers really do pray for others.

Don’t Quit Your God-Given Vision Before It’s Time

There is a sobering story in Numbers 32:1-5

The tribe of Reuben wanted to bail on the rest of the Israelites.  Read the story for yourself.

  • They wanted to take the easy way out…
  • They wanted to rest on their current success…
  • The journey ahead seemed too much for them…

Perhaps that’s your story today.  The journey has gotten much harder than you expected and the days ahead seem unbearable.  Some days you would just rather quit trying.

  • Are you tired of pushing forward?
  • Are you burned out…satisfied…comfortable…afraid…confused?
  • Are you ready to quit?

If you know the job you’ve been called to do isn’t finished yet…

Don’t quit…

Find the courage, recharge your batteries, raise up some other leaders…

…But whatever it takes…move forward…

Is that your story?  Are you tempted to give up? Leave a comment and others and I will pray for you…

7 Ways to Keep a Leader on Your Team

One of the biggest challenges for any organization is to attract and retain leaders. Yesterday I posted 7 reasons leaders tend to leave an organization.  (Read that post HERE.)  The goal then is to find ways to keep a leader energized to stay with the team, so I thought a companion post was appropriate.  I never want to stop someone from pursuing a better opportunity, but I don’t want to send them away because I didn’t help them stay.

The reality is that leaders get restless if they are forced to sit still for long.  Good managers are comfortable maintaining progress, but a leader needs to be leading change.  I posted before that leaders even thrive in chaos at times.  (Read that post HERE.)

If you sense you have a restless leader on your team, here are a few suggestions to encourage them to stay:

  • Give him or her a new challenge…
  • Allow him or her to explore a new area of interest to them…
  • Let him or her lead a new area….
  • Give him or her more creative time to dream…
  • Don’t exhibit fear in him or her creating a mess while exploring…
  • Take the lid off his or her authority…(give him or her more)…
  • Allow him or her to help you lead/dream/plan for the organization…

What other ways can you think of to keep a restless leader longer at an organization?

7 Reasons Leaders Quit Your Organization

If your organization expects to grow, you’ll need to attract, develop and retain quality leaders.  One of the highest costs an organization has is replacing leaders, so ideally once a leader is hired, you’ll want to keep them.  I was reflecting recently on why leaders tend to leave an organization, apart from finding a better opportunity.  I don’t want to stand in the way of a leader leaving to an opportunity I can’t match, but I don’t want to lose them because of something the organization did wrong.

Here are 7 reasons leaders tend to quit your organization:

They couldn’t live out their personal vision – Leaders are internally driven. They have personal visions in addition to the vision of the organization.

They were told no too many times – Leaders have ideas they want to see implemented.

They felt unappreciated/never recognized for their abilities -– This goes for all team members.  People need to know that what they are offering is valued.

They were given no voice – Leaders want input into the direction of the organization.

They were left clueless as to the future of the organization – Leaders need inside information so they feel ownership in the overall direction of the organization.

Their vision doesn’t match the vision of the organization – This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but is best discovered before the leader joins the team.

They were micromanaged – Leaders don’t need managing as much as they need releasing.  Leaders need to help chart their future.

You can allow leaders to work for the good of the organization or stifle them, discourage them and spend valuable time and effort consistently replacing them.  If you want to keep leaders…let them lead!

What would you add to my list?

Which of these reasons would be/has been/is going to be your biggest reason for leaving an organization?

10 Questions With Leader Steve Keating with @LeadToday


Steve Keating is an online leadership influencer extraordinaire. His Twitter posts are consistently re-tweeted and his insight is valuable for me and thousands of others who follow him. I decided it was time to get to know the man behind the leadership tweets.

Steve’s bio includes 25 years of sales and sales management experience, including 8 –1/2 years with the Dale Carnegie organization. You can follow Steve’s tweets HERE or connect with him on LinkedIn HERE.

Here are 10 questions with leader Steve Keating:

When you were growing up, is this what you thought you would be doing vocationally? If not, what did you want to do?

When I was growing up I wanted to be a hockey player. That plan was working well until one January day during my second year of college. It turns out, it’s kind of tough to play hockey with only one good knee. ☺ So business was my next choice and I knew early on that as much as I wanted to succeed it would be even more rewarding to help others succeed as well. That has lead me to where I am today.

What’s the most different job you’ve had from what you are doing now and how did that job help you with what you are doing now?

I fixed vending machines during college. It was hard kind of dirty work with a surprising amount of stress. But many of the lessons learned there carry forward to this day, particularly giving people bad news, dealing with unhappy people (nothing like dealing with people who have missed their morning cup of coffee to help you learn how unhappy some people can be) and seeing things from other people’s point of view.

Who is one person, besides Christ, who most helped to shape your leadership and how did they help you?

I have been so blessed to have good Christian men as mentors throughout my life. One of the earliest that stand out was my 7th grade teacher – Cyril Paul. My first close contact with a person of another race was with Mr. Paul, he was my teacher with Martin Luther King Jr. was killed. I saw the pain and anger but I also saw the grace & dignity with which he dealt with it. I learned from him that when things don’t go your way to remember, it’s not all about you. I watched him, in all his hurt, pray for our country & thank God for the work that Dr. King had done. Even at that young age you knew you mattered, you knew he cared. He instilled in all of us real hope for our futures. I learned from Mr. Paul that when you give someone hope, you really give them the opportunity to be everything they can be.

Besides the Bible, what is one book that has most helped to shape your thought process in life and ministry?

This one is easy! It’s “How to Win Friends & Influence People” by Dale Carnegie. Many people don’t realize it but I believe Mr. Carnegie drew many of the principles of his book straight from scripture. The book is well known as a “self-help” book but it’s really about helping yourself by helping others.

What are three words other people would use to describe your work style/ethic?

Caring – I hope this comes through. I truly try (I fail too often) to live for Christ. If the “caring” doesn’t show I have really missed the mark.

Perfectionist – I’m not sure I like this one but I know many people (including my wife) would describe me this way. I say I’m not sure I like this one because it can be a twined edged sword. Sometimes trying for perfection leads to frustration and frustration is a very short step from anger.

Diligent – The greatest compliment anyone could pay is would be to say my word is as good as gold. When I say I would do something I stick to it until it is done. I hate to disappoint people.

What is your greatest strength in leadership?

I would say my greatest strength is that I get more excited helping others succeed than I do succeeding myself. I don’t suppose I’ve always felt that way but as I grow older I feel more of a calling to give myself to others so that they might have some of the success that has been given to me.

What is your greatest weakness in leadership?

You might have noticed from my tweets that I love to give advice ☺ But my greatest weakness also comes from giving that advice. My weakness is frustration, I get frustrated when people ask for advice, when I carefully, thoughtfully coach, and then people do something almost totally opposite from my recommendation. The good news is that I forget the experience pretty quickly and become willing to help again as soon as I’m asked.

What is the hardest thing you have to do in leadership?

The hardest thing for me is telling someone they are wrong. I try to “paint them a picture” or share a story that illustrates where they might be wrong but sometimes you just have to say it, you’re wrong. I try to do it in a caring manner and to make the fault seem easy to correct. I try to do it in a way that reduces the chance of an argument but however I do it, it’s still never a pleasant experience for anyone.

What is one misconception about your position you think people in your church may have?

Interesting question! We were at a church for 15 years and left that church last August. We were accepted into membership at our new church home, John Piper’s church, Bethlehem Baptist, just yesterday. We were a key part of the leadership team at our former church and began to notice disturbing changes over our last 18 months there. “Seekers” became “customers” and the only way to honor God was by raising large amounts of money. It became man’s church and not God’s church. As these things started to happen many of the member’s come to me and asked me to “fix” them. I think the assumption was that I simple comment to the Pastor, from me would put things back to normal. In a way that was a great compliment but as it tuned out, my influence was way way over-rated.

If you could give one piece of advice to young leaders from what you’ve learned by experience, what would it be?

My best piece of advice would be to do what you love, whatever it is. From that love will come passion and that passion, when used for good, will often lead to excellence.

Do Steve’s answers trigger any thoughts in your mind about your own leadership?

What Does It Mean To Be Adopted By God?

What does it mean to be adopted into the family of God?  I believe learning this principle about our God relationship could change the way we live our entire life…

If you attend Grace Community Church and/or you follow our podcasts, you may need to listen to this message before you hear tomorrow’s message on prayer.  I think they should go together as essential truths of our faith.

Watch this message I recently delivered at Grace Community Church

Test Drive A Volunteer Opportunity

Wow! I love this idea. I need to clarify I had nothing to do with it and didn’t know about it until I read it on one of our staff member’s blog, but I’m so proud of our team! As you know, our church is growing rapidly. We are averaging over a 30% increase every week over this same time last year. With more new people comes more needs for volunteers.

Have you ever wanted to test out a volunteer position? Well this is your week at Grace Community Church. Join the fantastic people in Grace Acres or Cross Street this Sunday for a free “test drive” to see if you like it. Here’s the cool part…you will.

Benefits:
1. Lots of love
2. Meet new people
3. Feel appreciated
4. Serve God

You can’t beat that deal. See Katrina or Adam this Sunday and take a test drive.

Now we need to get the other ministry areas to play copycat!

What creative ways has your church recruited volunteers?

A Day In The Life Of A Pastor

Today was one of the hardest days in ministry that I’ve had in many months, yet it was a confirming day at the same time. Let me explain.

I emailed our staff Sunday night that this was an impossible week for me schedule wise. It is my last week of classes for my second master’s degree (YEA!), I am speaking at a conference this weekend, and I’m preaching Sunday, in addition to a full schedule of meetings. I was feeling overwhelmed before I started and wanted them to have advance warning that I would be stretched. (I’m not that much fun to be around during those times…some days.) This morning, after learning of my fifth crisis of the week and it being only Tuesday morning, I sent the staff another email. I had tried too hard to plan my schedule for the week and God had other plans. I needed their prayers.

That’s also when the confirmation occurred to me. This is what I’ve been called to do. I spent 20 plus years in business running from a call to vocational ministry, but today is an example of why I believe God placed a call on my life. I have, for whatever reason, the ability to help people wade through the crisis times of life. I have an ability to bring calm to some storms. As hard as those times are…as much as I’d love to run from them some days, this is what and who God called me to be.

This week is not over yet, and I’m hoping for some rest from the storms to prepare my heart for the next wave of trauma, but I’m also confident I’m doing what God has called me to do.

Here’s an important question I think God would have me ask at this point:

Are you doing what God has called you to do?

(I obviously can’t and wouldn’t share any specifics, but would you be willing to pray for some very hard situations right now?)